White Mother-of-Pearl Shell Meaning and Properties

White Mother-of-Pearl Shell History

Mother-of-pearl shell in all its colors is created by nacre, an iridescent layer that forms in shell liners of mollusks. This material is found in pearl-producing mollusks from all over the world. Used for thousands of years, mother-of-pearl shell was valued by the ancient Egyptians for adornment while East Asia used it in religious art. Mother-of-pearl shell in general was increasingly popular in the Victorian era when it was used to inlay items such as cutlery, jewelry boxes, buttons and jewelry. Today, mother-of-pearl shell is still used as an inlay such as for guitars and household items, but the shell itself is used in jewelry creations, too.

White Mother-of-Pearl Shell Metaphysical Properties

According to some metaphysical beliefs, mother-of-pearl shell in all its colors is believed to bring about prosperity. Of course, each color also has connotations with white representing concepts such as purity and youthfulness. It is unsurprising that with a name containing "mother," this shell is said to provide motherly protection and soothing abilities. Mother-of-pearl shell is not a traditional birthstone, but it is associated with the zodiac sign of Pisces and the heart chakra. For this reason, mother-of-pearl shell is believed to help strengthen the heart and immune system.

White Mother-of-Pearl Shell Geological Properties

Mother-of-pearl shell comes from both saltwater and freshwater mollusks. This material has been sourced from Australia, Japan, Central America, the Persian Gulf, Madagascar, the Philippines, South America, China and more. White mother-of-pearl shell is opaque to translucent in colors such as white and cream, though it can be dyed to create other colors, too.

Mineral Information Calcium carbonate, aragonite
Chemical Composition 84-92% calcium-carbonate, 4-13% organic substances, 3-4% water
Color White to cream color
Hardness 3 to 4 (Mohs)
Specific Gravity 2.60 - 2.78
Refractive Index 1.52 - 1.66

Proper Care of White Mother-of-Pearl Shell

Mother-of-pearl shell may help protect shells, but this material is fairly fragile with a Mohs hardness of 3 to 4. To return white mother-of-pearl shell to its beautiful luster, wipe with a damp soft cloth. The gemstone can also be rinsed with warm, soapy water. Be sure to thoroughly dry any jewelry before storing to keep any metal settings from tarnishing. Keep mother-of-pearl jewelry away from other harder stones and materials, preferably in a soft pouch or on a separate velveteen tray.

To learn more about mother-of-pearl shell and other gemstones, order your copy of Walter Schumann's revised and expanded edition of Gemstones of the World.

Designing with White Mother-of-Pearl Shell

Especially popular in Victorian-inspired jewelry designs, mother-of-pearl shell is often seen as cameos for use in brooches, necklaces and bracelets. Mother-of-pearl shell isn't just an addition to feminine jewelry though, as this shell is commonly seen in cuff links and tie tacks. Pair white mother-of-pearl shell with black for a striking, sophisticated result. Coordinate with soft pink crystals or stones for a decidedly delicate and feminine piece of jewelry. Use other white materials such as cultured freshwater pearls with mother-of-pearl shell to create wedding designs that are sure to attract attention.

View design inspirations featuring white mother-of-pearl shell in the Gallery of Designs.

Shop for White Mother-of-Pearl Shell Items

**Please note that all metaphysical or healing properties listed are collected from various sources. This information is offered as a service and not meant to treat medical conditions. Fire Mountain Gems and Beads® does not guarantee the validity of any of these statements.

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